The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is situated on the northern coast of South America. Home to an estimated population of 29.1 million, it covers around 916,445 square kilometres which includes the Andes mountains and the Amazon Basin Rainforest. Its main export is oil. Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 but continued resistance led in 1811 to it becoming the first Spanish American country to declare independence. A chequered political history followed which saw dictatorships rise and fall, as well as military coups. The current president is founder of the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200, Hugo Chávez.
Venezuela prosecutor to open probe over leaked recording
Reuters in Caracas
Venezuela’s prosecutor’s office said on Thursday it would open an investigation into in a recording the opposition says features a top government ally accusing the deputy head of the ruling Socialist Party of corruption and conspiring against the new president.
Opposition deputies on Monday broadcast the recording of a conversation they said was between powerful state television commentator Mario Silva and a Cuban intelligence agent and later requested an investigation of it.
The man identified as Silva in the recording accused Diosdado Cabello, Congress chief and vice president of the ruling Socialist Party, of conspiring against President Nicolas Maduro and of illegally appropriating dollars through the country’s currency control system.
“I have requested that an investigation be opened over the alleged recording of Mario Silva,” chief state prosecutor Luisa Ortega said via her Twitter account.
Ortega could not immediately be reached for comment to confirm her remarks or to explain the extent of the planned investigation.
Her announcement came hours after opposition deputies asked state prosecutors to investigate the accusations made in the recording.
Silva - whose close relationship with late President Hugo Chavez led many to see him as more powerful than some cabinet ministers - denies having made the accusations, saying US and Israeli intelligence agencies manipulated recordings of his voice.
In the recording, the man identified as Silva says he received rifles from the ministry of defence for his own protection. He also questioned the results of last April’s election, suggesting hackers had infiltrated the voting system to lower Maduro’s margin of victory.
The person in the recording leveled accusations against a range of top officials, including First Lady Cilia Flores, Defense Minister Diego Molero, and Vice President Jorge Arreaza.
Opposition leaders called the recording evidence both of corruption and of a fierce power struggle at the top echelons of the ruling party following the death of Chavez in March.